Mpumalanga Province is one of South Africa’s most productive and important agricultural regions and plays a key role in the export profile of the country. Considering the growth of the agricultural sector, a state-of-the-art International Fresh Produce Market for the province is a necessity in terms of infrastructure development.
In his State of the Province Address 2017, Premier David Mabuza stated that Mpumalanga Province will continue to focus on agriculture as one the key sectors to drive industrial development and job creation in the region. “The establishment of the International Fresh Produce Market remains our critical lever to stimulate increased agricultural production to supply domestic and international markets,” said Premier Mabuza.
The construction of key infrastructure is underway to support the development of the market.
“We urge all our farmers to unite, organise themselves, and ensure that we are ready for increased demand to supply the Agri-parks and the International Fresh Produce Market. Government is moving with speed to implement Agri-parks in all three Districts of our Province,” said the Premier.
Agri-parks to ensure participation of local farmers
An Agri-park is a networked innovation system of agricultural production, processing, logistics, marketing, training, and extension services. To support the Market, the Mpumalanga government is in the process of establishing seven ‘Agri-Hubs’ throughout the province. The Agri-Hubs intend to provide a stable supply of fresh produce into the market and to develop new markets and strengthen existing outlets both locally and internationally for the province’s commercial and emerging growers. In so doing, the Mpumalanga Province will ensure the participation of local farmers in the Market.
Due to a conducive climate, Mpumalanga is home to predominantly tropical and subtropical crops and vegetables. The tropical and subtropical crops consist of avocados, bananas, citrus, ginger, granadilla, guava, litchi, macadamia nut, mangoes, papaya and pineapple. The vegetables produced are mainly potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet corn, onions, sweet potatoes, beetroot, carrots, green peas, cauliflower, cabbage and green beans.
Supplying regional and international markets
The Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) has identified a site for the development of the Fresh Produce Market. The site is in Mbombela, the capital city of Mpumalanga Province, on a 248-hectare piece of land about 7 km from the Central Business District.
It is situated within the Maputo Development Corridor (MDC), which is South Africa’s leading Spatial Development Initiative (SDI); linking Mpumalanga Province, Gauteng Province and the Nkomazi Special Economic Zone with the deep-water Port of Maputo in Mozambique.
This location will enable the Fresh Produce Market to access the SADC market (280 million consumers), EAC market (140 million consumers), and provide preferential access to the lucrative Asian and EU markets.
Seeking international investors
The Fresh Produce Market will have a strong regional focus and comply with international best practice in terms of food safety measures, traceability, cold chain, and ripening facilities. Given the capital required to make the market a reality, MEGA is seeking investors and partners to develop the project’s infrastructure and its operations.
The agency is also calling on interested investors to develop retail facilities and agri-processing facilities. MEGA is also interested in collaborating with investors in the development of transport and logistical support for the market.
Potential investors interested in collaborating with MEGA will sign a Build-to-Operate and Transfer commercial agreement, enabling the investors to finance, design, construct and operate the facility for a period, after which ownership is transferred back to MEGA; or an investor will provide a loan to MEGA that will be repaid over an agreed period.
MEGA is also open to a Public-Private Partnership, where partners will agree, through a legally binding contract or some other mechanism, to share responsibilities related to implementation and/or operation and management of the project.
The Fresh Produce Market will cover 7 000 m² floor space. It will accommodate the expected growth in tropical and subtropical crops and vegetables production in the region. The production of potatoes is expected to increase by 40, 61% by 2050, while the production of onions is expected to rise by 68,03% and the production of lemon & lime is expected to climb by 76,60%. Furthermore, Mpumalanga Province has several mega agricultural projects in the pipeline, which further signifies the need for an International Food Produce Market.
The fresh produce market will offer:
- Open trading halls for fruit and vegetables
- A meat, fish, and flower market
- Complimentary cold storage, ripening facilities and pallet handling
- Processing facilities
- An export hall
- Bulk breaking facilities for retail outlets
- Links with statutory organisations like Customs, PPEBC and EuroGap
- Transport and Logistics enterprises
- Shared collation and packhouse facilities for SMMEs
- Commercial services including banks and restaurants
- A food bank for NGOs
Investors interested in this great opportunity are invited to contact Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA)